DELRAY BEACH, Fla. – The boy and girl whose bodies were found stuffed into luggage and thrown into a south Florida canal are believed to be the children of a woman found dead in a trash area last summer, police said Friday.
Investigators said they have positively identified the children's bodies found Wednesday as siblings Jermaine McNeil, 10, and Ju'tyra Allen, 6. Police believe their mother, Felicia Brown, is the woman whose body was found in a West Palm Beach trash area last August.
Police said Brown was identified in part because she had tattoos bearing her children's names.
Sgt. Nicole Guerriero, a spokeswoman for the Delray Beach Police, said the three lived with Clem Beauchamp, who investigators say is their only suspect in the deaths. He has not been charged with their slayings but is being held on an unrelated weapons charge.
Police said they didn't expect any charges in the case for several days, at the earliest. Meantime, the release of the victims' identities Friday horrified friends and relatives, including Brown's sister, 22-year-old Margaret Gissone.
"There were a lot of things I wanted to tell her that I hadn't told her yet," she said.
Friends and neighbors said they had been asking Beauchamp about Brown's whereabouts for months, but he had an explanation.
"He said she was in jail," said Kenneth Marshall, 43, an acquaintance of the family.
Three other children who lived in Beauchamp's home were taken from his girlfriend and put into the custody of the Department of Children and Families, Guerriero said Friday. The girlfriend was questioned in the killings but is not considered a suspect, police said.
After Beauchamp was questioned in the children's deaths by Delray Beach police Thursday night, federal agents arrested him on the weapons charge, which will keep him behind bars as the investigation continues.
Court records show the weapons charge dates to 2009, when officers found a homemade silencer inside a bag with a knit hat and a Halloween mask. On Friday, investigators sifted through his small home and towed away cars.
The silencer was found in the trunk of Brown's repossessed car, documents show.
Beauchamp denied any involvement with the silencer, according to court documents. It's not yet known if he has an attorney.
His neighbors have described a complicated family situation in which multiple children who had different mothers lived with him. In 2008, Beauchamp fought an ex-girlfriend for — and won — the right to have two children live with him; they were among the three taken away this week.
"I'm there to make sure they do their homework, to give them the proper guidance that they would need to succeed in life," he told a judge at a custody hearing. "Being a father means more than just making the kid. You actually got to be there for them. And I'm prepared to do all that."
A person familiar with the case who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the matter told The Associated Press on Friday that Beauchamp used Brown's name to get food stamps and other government benefits after her death.
That person said Brown put one of her children up for adoption several years ago. When the adoption fell through, the source said, Brown readopted the child and began collecting adoption subsidies. It's unclear whether it was her son or daughter.
Beauchamp has a lengthy criminal record and has spent time in jail. Gissone said she had seen him hit her sister on two occasions.
"He got a mean streak to him," she said.
In recent days, those who know Beauchamp said they noticed some changes: He cut off his dreadlocks and could be found, late at night, sunk to his knees in prayer at a neighborhood church.
"He said he was trying to change his life," said Marshall.
The two children's bodies were found in the water Wednesday, about a half-mile and six hours apart. The girl's body was stuffed into a duffel bag, and the boy's was in a suitcase.
Associated Press writer Kelli Kennedy contributed to this report from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
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